In the wake of a lengthy Twitter thread by former One Tree Hill writer Audrey Wauchope, numerous members of the One Tree Hill cast and crew accused Mark Schwann of sexual harassment — including stars Sophia Bush, Hilarie Burton, Bethany Joy Lenz, and Danneel Ackles. (At the time, Bustle reached out to an agent and lawyer for Schwahn for comment, but did not receive a response.) In an interview with Variety that was published on Friday, Burton and Ackles detail the sexual harassment they claim to have faced, and their claims are heartbreaking whether you're a fan of the series or not. Bustle has reached out to Schwahn's lawyer and agent for comment on the latest claims, but did not receive an immediate response.
Burton, who portrayed Peyton Sawyer from Season 1 to Season 6 of the show, claims that Schwahn began harassing her began around Season 3. She alleges that he positioned himself as a mentor to her, but that she later realized that she was allegedly " being groomed as bait." According to her, Schwahn would encourage new female actors to befriend Burton, allegedly so that he had easier access to them. Ackles (née Harris), who portrayed Rachel Gatina on the show beginning in Season 3, also claimed that she was told to develop a friendship with Burton when she began. From there, the claims get tougher to read.
According to Burton, Schwahn reportedly called her at night in order to admit that he was in love with Ackles and to claim that he had had a physical relationship with her, which Ackles denies. Schwahn was married at the time. Burton further claims that Schwahn forced himself on her twice; the alleged first time happened during a limo ride to secure a location for a Season 4 episode. “I’m leaning in listening [to a phone call]," the actor claimed. "And when it’s Dawn Ostroff’s turn to talk, he just leans over and starts kissing me. I push him off, but I can’t say anything, because he’s on the phone fighting for our show to stay on the air."
The second alleged incident happened in February 2007 at an episode wrap party. She claimed, "I’m at the bar waiting to get drinks for the hairdresser and me, and he leans over and he kisses me in front of everybody. Right on the mouth. It was something I had to get out of. It wasn’t a peck. It wasn’t ‘Hey, sis, how’s your day?’ It was a boyfriend kiss.” Nevertheless, Burton claims that she told no one at Warner Bros. about these alleged incidences with Schwahn because she "didn’t want Warner Bros. to view me as a problem, because they had been so supportive."
According to Variety, Ackles had a similar story. When she was leaving the series after Season 5, Ackles claims that, "Mark Schwahn is standing outside my apartment — would not leave, wants to say goodbye, wants one last hug, would not get in his car. I could not go outside and get in my car, because he wouldn’t leave." And, though she returned to the show in Season 7 for multiple episodes, the actor claims it was because her character's storyline involved being married to Dan Scott, played by Paul Johansson. "He would never do anything like that in front of Paul," she claimed.
The Variety story details further stories of alleged harassment and abuse from female One Tree Hill writers, some of whom declined to be named. These claims come just a few short days after the open letter shared and signed on Monday, which has since been supported by several male stars of the show including Chad Michael Murray and James Lafferty. And, for many fans, the bravery required for these actors and writers to come forward with these claims is remarkable.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.